Where can Scouting take young people? The sky’s the limit.
Samuel Ferguson, an Eagle Scout from West Windsor, N.J., received an $80,000 prize for finishing in sixth place in the Regeneron Science Talent Search.
He says he’ll put every penny of the money toward paying for college; the 18-year-old plans to attend MIT.
I first told you about Sam in January when he was one of three Scouts selected as finalists in the competition, which is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math event for high school seniors.
For his project, Sam designed a blended-wing-body aircraft that’s 40 percent lighter and more fuel efficient than traditional tube-and-wing airplanes.
In Sam’s design, the entire surface of the airplane — not just the wings — provides lift.
Being one of just 40 finalists from across the country is an honor in itself. But at an awards gala earlier this month in Washington, D.C., Sam learned that his project won sixth place and the accompanying prize money.
“I was surprised but very happy,” Sam tells me. “I felt great knowing that all of that hard work and dedication paid off in not just earning prize money, but spending an exciting week with some really cool and interesting people.”
How Scouting helped
When he’s not in class at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, Sam volunteers as an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 66 of the Washington Crossing Council.
He says his time in Scouting was “very helpful for this competition.”
“Scouting helped me develop my leadership and communication skills,” he says. “Working on my Eagle Scout project helped me develop my planning and project management skills.”
Even though Sam’s $80,000 prize stemmed from his STEM skills, Sam’s favorite Scouting memory didn’t involve science, technology, engineering or math.
“My favorite part of Scouting was spending time outdoors with my friends,” he says. “One of my best memories was slowly making our way down a snowy hill to discover a partially frozen waterfall. It was so exciting and mesmerizing.”
Learn more about the Regeneron Science Talent Search and see a full list of winners in the official news release.
Photos courtesy of Chris Ayers/Society for Science & the Public